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Starting the Fertility Conversation (#LetsTalkFertility with CCRM)

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Fertility and concerns of infertility are words on the tips of everyone’s lips of late, and yet starting the fertility conversation seems to be more difficult than ever.

This post is sponsored by CCRM. All opinions are wholy my own.

I joined a fabulous group of women at a brunch hosted by CCRM, a leading fertility center in the U.S., to discuss how to lift the fertility stigma. If 40% of adults in a recent survey believe that infertility isn’t widely discussed, who better to start the conversation than a group of ladies who love to talk?

Discussing Infertility

Throughout my journey addressing my fertility, going through infertility treatment, and, happily, getting pregnant with my little Emmie, I have followed my typical approach to the speedbumps of life: I remained super open and used this blog as a way to investigate fertility treatment as a whole, my fertility treatment specifically, and, of course, my feelings relating to it all.

I have had a chronic illness for so long, and am personally just of such a personality, that talking about my fertility in an open forum wasn’t that much of a stretch. I had confidence that my friends would support me and want the best for Alex and me. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky to have that confidence, even in the people immediately around them. So, they clam up.

Or, if they’re lucky, infertility is something that they never have to grapple with. They drop their birth control method and are pregnant naturally within months or even weeks. They don’t learn how prevalent infertility is, not just in the larger world but with their everyday acquaintances and friends.

As a result, there is a dearth of information on even the very basic fertility information. I, myself, had no clue that 1 in 8 American families struggle with infertility, and that infertility is considered trying to get pregnant without success for 12 months if under 35 or 6 months for those 35+.

Did you know that the majority of couples under the age of 35 will be pregnant within 6 to 9 months of beginning to try to conceive?

So it should be easy to get pregnant, right?
For some, it is easy. But for those 1 in 8 couples… they feel like they are stuck outside in a Polar Vortex.

CCRM is dedicated to helping those couples get pregnant. They are committed to the advancement of research and development to fight infertility—and to ultimately succeed, even with the most complex cases. CCRM is the industry’s leading  pioneer in fertility science, research, and advancement (via methods such as IVF, fertility assessment, fertility preservation, genetic testing, third party reproduction, and egg donation). To encourage people to continue the dialogue on this important topic, this month CCRM kicked off its #LetsTalkFertility event series encouraging us to take the conversation forward and break down those social taboos associated with infertility.

But why IS fertility/infertility so difficult to discuss?

How do you begin to talk about your struggles to get pregnant when your friends are announcing that they are getting pregnant easily and naturally? You don’t want to rain on their parade. Furthermore, why aren’t YOU getting pregnant? Shouldn’t this be easy? Is there something wrong with you?

As you watch the months go by, as the ovulation and pregnancy tests build up along with the stress, perhaps even leading to tension in your marriage/partnership, you start to lose hope. Meanwhile, you are keeping these feelings to yourself.

What difference would it make to you if you knew that you were, actually, one of many? That nearly 13% of couples struggle with infertility? That there are ways of assessing your fertility and your partner’s fertility, that there are next steps that can be taken to help your chances of getting pregnant, and that your dream of starting a family doesn’t have to vanish into thin air.

For myself, knowing that in a seemingly hopeless situation (I do not produce hormones on a level that can even result in a period, and, no, “eating a sandwich” will not help), that there was hope for me to carry my own child via my own eggs or egg donor, meant so much.

When we started going through treatment, being open and discussing what we were going through was therapeutic for us as we got support from our friends and also were taken into confidence by friends who were also trying to conceive. I referred friends to therapy, to doctors, and spent time talking in person, on the phone, and via messaging to many women and family members asking about or commiserating with our situation.

There are so. many. of us out there. And yet, you would never know.

CCRM #LetsTalkFertility Brunch

This is just the beginning of the conversation. When CCRM brought myself and several other amazing ladies together for an intimate brunch led by CCRM’s own Dr. Laxmi Kondapalli, the idea was for get together to be informational and a resource for fertility discussion: new therapies, fertility science, statistics, family planning, surrogacy, and more.

The conversation that we experienced took another direction, however. What we experienced was raw, open, nonjudgmental. We learned from each other, we taught each other, and we exchanged stories on both sides. Stories of times that we were on the wrong end of a careless comment (honestly, both ends in that situation are wrong). Ladies opened up about not knowing what to say when a friend admitted to struggling with her infertility or receiving terrible news during their own trying-to-conceive journeys.

Of course, the hours that we spent together were incredibly educational for those who have had no exposure to questions on fertility or family planning. But the brunch was also incredibly touching and educational for those of us who are/have been in the throes of infertility treatment. We were reminded that many people have no clue about infertility treatments such as the IVF process.

We were all reminded that we need to continue to do our part to share the word that fertility is fragile (so freeze your eggs if you are nearing 35 and not in a place where you want to start your family yet!), that infertility is NOT something to be ashamed of (would you be ashamed of cancer?), and that there is hope. But we must continue the conversation, or, in many cases, simply start the dialogue, period.

I am thankful to CCRM for this reminder, for continuing to educate, and for treating so many of my friends and making their dreams come true via award winning physicians, a variety of fertility services, innovative technology, and cutting-edge labs located across the country.

What are some questions that you have about your fertility?


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10 Comments

  • Reply Maureen @ Maureen Gets Real

    I totally think infertility should be talked about more. It seems like there would be more sensitivity to asking someone about when they’re getting pregnant or why they’re waiting so long for kids when in reality someone could be trying but struggling.

    March 4, 2019 at 7:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think it is like cancer–people were so hush hush about it or scared to talk for so long. But with awareness and people normalizing the conversation more and more, not only do people develop more compassion and understanding, but treatment options get better and better through advocacy.

      March 12, 2019 at 9:00 am
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    I am so happy that you’ve been able to speak out so much. It is SO hard and we need more strong people like you. xoxo

    March 4, 2019 at 8:27 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Love you so much. You fought so hard and for so long. So long. I admire you so much.

      March 12, 2019 at 8:57 am
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    I have to believe (or try really hard to believe) that people who make stupid and asinine comments like “when are you two going to get started having babies?” and “your mom wants to be a grandmother so badly” and the ever-popular “what are you waiting for?” really don’t understand that having a baby isn’t just the easiest thing in the world.

    Maybe they have never tried to get pregnant, or maybe they just look at their spouse and a baby is on the way, or maybe they just aren’t there yet…..I try to believe that stupid comments are just made out of ignorance.

    I also know that being told to “hurry up before you get too old”–three days after a miscarriage at 16 weeks–is excruciating.

    Education is a must for those who make such bad comments……and I also know that when you are asked a really bad question at a REALLY bad time, it can reduce you to tears, where answering or even trying to speak is impossible to do.

    Infertility as a word means “failure” to many people. It shouldn’t mean that, but to the average person, that’s exactly what they think. Its very painful and very private, not to mention very embarrassing, to air your sex-life out in public.

    And if I heard it once, I heard it a 100 times, “women have been having babies for millions of years, what’s wrong with you?”

    But, I’m not sure how we can educate those “uneducated” or “just thoughtless” folks without making ourselves feel even more “victimized.”
    “Being infertile” is a terrible title, and yet….there it is.
    It is also a journey, and particularly for women, it is an extremely painful one when we feel that our body is letting us and our partner down.

    I’m not sure how the education of the infertility journey can become easier to discuss.
    But, I’ll speak out as often as I can when it is an appropriate time and place to do so.

    March 4, 2019 at 12:34 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Infertility sounds so permanent–like a sentence. But at the same time, I fertility does t go away just because you have a kid and are therefore technically fertile. We have to increase discussion and normalize the conversation to a degree. Yes it is personal. But so are your boobs, and people talk about them!

      March 12, 2019 at 9:03 am
  • Reply Jill Ciganek

    As I approach my 40th birthday (in 1 more week!!) fertility is something that’s been on my mind and frankly giving me a TON of anxiety. I’ve always always wanted to have children but I’m single and never found ‘my person’ to do that with. I’d love to be able to do this whole thing solo – freeze my eggs, do IVF via donor, etc – but there’s no way I could ever afford that. And this has been something that’s very very difficult for me to come to terms with. That time is winding down and I may never actually have children of my own. I think this part of infertility – single women – is rarely ever talked about sadly.

    March 7, 2019 at 2:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Such an amazing point. And I send you so much love. I know how much you love children and how amazing a mom you would be (without question). There are so many sides to the infertility conversation. I wish I could send you the money to have a baby!

      March 12, 2019 at 9:08 am
  • Reply Sarah Rosenblatt

    Thanks for always being so open about this, Suz. I’ve learned SO MUCH from your throughout your journey! And been able to share my knowledge with people around me!

    March 8, 2019 at 12:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I’m so happy to hear that, Sarah. You are an incredible advocate and an amazing friend!

      March 12, 2019 at 9:09 am

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